The basics
Hong Kong: Applying to University - Must read

Applying to study in Hong Kong

Our breakdown of the application process to study abroad in Hong Kong


It’s hardly surprising that in the last year, Hong Kong has seen a surge in university applications. With more scholarship options for international students, a 2012 overhaul of the education system and liberalised immigration policies, the city’s allure as a study abroad destination makes perfect sense. Applying to university in Hong Kong however is still a multi-tiered process, and it’s important you take it seriously if you want to be accepted. Let our overview of the application process to study abroad in Hong Kong help get you on your way.


Research and deadlines

Students are advised to begin researching prospective institutions at least one academic year before their potential commencement study abroad date. University handbooks are updated every year, and in alignment with 2012 educational reforms many undergraduate programmes of study have been extended from three years to four. It is very important that you research each separate subject you might study in detail, and confirm directly with both your host and home institution that it will be credited directly towards your degree. It is always a good idea to get this confirmation in writing, and download a university prospectus where you can.

Intake dates and application deadlines vary across institutions, especially between private and specialist institutes. The Hong Kong academic year begins in September and runs until April-May. Generally, applications are accepted from September-December for a start in semester one of the following academic year. Some universities also have mid-year intake rounds.

For example, the University of Hong Kong accepts applications from as early as a year before your proposed start date, with a cut-off at the end of December for a start in September of the following year. First round offers are given from February onwards, with the deadline for submitting supporting documents in mid-August.


Entrance requirements

Specific entrance requirements vary across institution, study level and subject area, but very broadly speaking applicants are primarily considered based on the nature of their academic background and academic achievements to date. Most universities will include an admissions interview as part of the process.

Most universities will also require proof of proficiency in English language, as most programmes are taught in English. Prospective students are advised to have either TOEFL or IELTS test scores on hand as part of their application. Your IELTS score is valid for three years from the date of testing, and so students should make sure it will either still be valid upon the date of application, or organize to re-sit the exam well before the deadline.

For example, the Chinese University of Hong Kong requires undergraduate applicants to submit transcripts of their secondary school qualifications, whilst prospective postgraduates will need to prove they have completed at least one year of undergraduate study at a recognized university, or at least one year of study in a bridging qualification (i.e. Associate degree, diploma) in their field. Other universities, such as the City University of Hong Kong have a comprehensive list of required documents for non-local students online.

Students will also typically need to provide proof of identification documents such as a photocopy of their passport or identification card. After students receive their offer, they should apply for a Hong Kong student visa.

Learn more about IELTS

Learn more about TOEFL

Find out what admissions test you need to (or should) take



International students can apply directly to a university online through their website (you can click through to their site from their profile here on Hotcourses Abroad). You can also apply through our free i-Apply service.

Application tips

With many world-class universities, the application process in Hong Kong can be quite competitive. It’s first and foremost the most important thing to convey your understanding of the field of study you’re applying for, in the ways you consider it, intend to approach it and hope to build upon it via the knowledge gleaned in your prospective course of study. Your enthusiasm should come across without you needing to directly reference it: admissions officers should be able to get an idea of how great you are without you needing to tell them so. Hong Kong culture favours establishment of mutual respect and applications coming across as too boastful will seem superficial or even lazy. Make sure your prose is direct and word-efficient.

It’s also important that you outline all of your academic achievements to date, are clear about their equivalent in Hong Kong and address any lateral skills you may have acquired that are related to your course of study. For example, you might have done work experience at a dietitian’s practice you might mention in an application to study Health Sciences. Hong Kong has recently overhauled its education system to focus on ‘whole person’ development, so demonstrating your lateral aptitude and understanding of your field’s ‘real-world’ application will be a key asset to your application.


Now that you’ve got a better idea how to tackle the application process to study abroad in Hong Kong, why not start browsing courses in Hong Kong now?


Useful Links:

Applying for a Hong Kong student visa

Top tips for the IELTS writing exam

IETLS vs. TOEFL: what are the main differences?

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About Author

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.